By Rick Riozza

Right now, no one has to bring to your attention that the holidays are hitting us at a record pace! In a few days from now we’re looking at Thanksgiving and then a set of days later, we’ll be into decking the halls for December.

So why don’t we just get into our holiday recommendations—some really good deals and some really good quaffs. And because the season requires a lot of wine to talk about, we’re sure the hits will keep on coming in our next column as well—so stay close!

Celebrations are of course the theme of the holidays along with a sense of thankfulness of making it through the year. So that means pouring the bubbly is the event opener! Here are some sparkling wines that can be found at most markets in your area.


Korbel Natural California Champagne ($18) – This is one of the best sparkling wines on the market for the price. At first glance, many wine enthusiasts pass over any Korbel product—desiring to drink a more expensive sparkler. But this is a bottle to well consider as this is Korbel’s driest bubbly in their portfolio.

It’s produced from about two-thirds Pinot Noir and one-third Chardonnay grapes grown in Sonoma County’s famed and cool Russian River Valley. It features apple notes complemented by sweet flavors of orange, lime and raspberry. The winery uses the same traditional methods as French Champagne and it delivers flavors that mimic the expensive stuff. It pairs wonderfully with oysters and shrimp and, as you can tell, is affordable enough to have around for the season’s celebration.

Domaine Ste. Michel Brut Non-Vintage ($12) – When it comes to non-vintage bubbly, you cannot beat the value of this Columbia Valley Washington sparkling wine. The company has always touted that the Chateau Ste. Michelle vineyard straddles the same latitude as the Champagne region in France. And that Domaine St. Michelle Brut uses the identical grape varietals as French Champagne—Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier, which provides a stunning sparkler with perfect acidity and flavor.

The bubbly shows a nice complexity of green apples, citrus, toast & brioche, honey, vanilla, minerals, honeysuckle, plum, and fig. What a wonderful mix of aromas and flavors to grace the holiday table. What a buy!

Mionetto Prosecco DOC Millesimato ($15) – There is a lot of Prosecco on the market, and as I wrote last week, there is a lot of uninteresting juice in those big, big, production wineries. Mionetto is fortunate to have relationships with vineyard owners and farmers that date back for generations. The strength and longevity of these relationships can affect the quality and quantity of grapes provided to a winery.

This Italian liquid artistry in the Mionetto bottling always provides a fresh and crisp bubbly. The aroma is filled with honey, apples, and white peach, while the flavor profile bursts with fruit character—fresh pears, lemon zest, and crisp green apple, the slightest hint of minerality, with refreshing well-balanced acidity and lively mouthfeel.

This prosecco is very versatile. Besides going great with pizza and burgers, it really pairs well with pairing well with spicy Southeast Asian fare such as Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian. Prosecco is also a favorite pick for the quintessential brunch drink, the mimosa. Two parts Mionetto and 1 part orange juice are all you need.

Pommery Brut Royal Champagne ($40) – For those folks who “require” a French Champagne to lighten up the festivities—but their pocketbook says otherwise, this Pommery Brut is one of the better deals for the buck. It provides a toasty, lip-smacking quaff with bright apple, raspberry, dried strawberry, soft orange, and citrus. Again, if you “need” a French Champagne to make your holiday mimosa, this is the bottle to be utilized!

Sometimes, when all of the bubbly has poured, we can still enjoy a nice white wine to serve as an aperitif that can pair well at the holiday dinner table with the first courses or so. Here, we recommend—what we call a “sexy choice”, the 2021 Plotzner Weissburgunder Sudtirol Alto Adige ($25). This wine is from the northeast area of Italy—known in the past as “Tyrolia”—you remember that name! Anyway, this wine is simply a Pinot Blanc and it is a hit! So delicious, light but with good body mouthfeel. Everyone who has tried this wine becomes a fan.

Complex aroma spectrum with smells of green apple, pears and peaches paired with fine citrus nuances, floral hints and almond touch. On the palate this elegant Pinot Blanc is refreshingly fruity and finesse-rich with a salty finish. For aperitif, with risotto, fish and asparagus dishes.

2021 Craggy Range Winery Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($20)Wine Spectator gave this wine 93 points! They wrote: “Aromatic and complex, this white shows off pure white and ruby grapefruit, lemongrass, passionfruit and dried pineapple flavors at the core, but details of matcha, sea salt, fresh-grated ginger and toasted mint are what make an impression on the long, sleek, juicy and expressive finish.”

The winemaker notes state: Pale lemon straw color. The nose is abundant with kaffir lime leaf and subtle tropical notes. The palate is electric. The hallmark saline acid of The Muna vineyard and pithiness to the fruit giving succulence and enhanced drinkability. Potentially the greatest release of this wine by Craggy Range to date.”

What’s not to like about this Kiwi Sauvvy Blanc! So why not bring a bottle or two over to your neighbor for a holiday treat! See you next time—Cheers!

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